All 16 teams were in action Wednesday at the 2013 FIBA Africa Championship tournament. The final four teams vying for three spots at next year’s FIBA World Cup are Ivory Coast, Angola, Egypt and Senegal — the latter two thanks to some key upsets of Tunisia and Nigeria.
The 2013 FIBA Africa Championship tournament had its busiest day of the schedule on Wednesday when all 16 teams reported for duty. Eight of the teams were competing for a spot in the semifinals while the remaining eight just played to decide whether they’d end up finishing the tournament in ninth place or all the way down in 16th place … for posterity’s sake, essentially.
Three of the four semifinalists will qualify for next year’s FIBA World Cup, thereby moving closer to a berth in the 2016 Olympics. Since those games are infinitely more important than finding out the 15th-best team in Africa, we’ll recap the semifinals games first before moving to the loser’s bracket.
Senegal 64, Nigeria 63 — Nigeria boasted the most NBA talent by far in the FIBA Africa tournament. That wasn’t enough on Wednesday, however, as it was upset by Senegal in the quarterfinals. Former NBA big Ike Diogu hit a huge 3-pointer to put Nigeria up 63-62 with 3:10 left on the clock, but his team never scored again. In fact, the only other points scored came at 2:08 when former Cincinnati Bearcats big Ibrahima Thomas scored to give his team the lead and eventual victory.
Senegal missed all four of its free throws in the final two minutes and turned the ball over on a traveling violation, but that didn’t stop it from completing the upset. Mamadou Ndoye scored 13 points, former SMU forward Mouhammad Faye added 12 and Maleye Ndoye put in work with 10 points to round out Senegal’s double-digit scorers. Note that total didn’t include the team’s two former NBA players, though: Hamady Ndiaye fouled out in just nine minutes of action while Saer Sene had one of his better games of the tournament with nine points and eight rebounds — though those numbers aren’t exactly what one would expect of a former lottery pick in this tournament.
Former NBA point guard Ben Uzoh scored 12 points, but he was unable to convert on the game-winning bucket to keep his team in the running to win the tournament. Diogu was Nigeria’s best player with 14 points and 10 rebounds while New Orleans Pelicans wing Al-Farouq Aminu added a solid stat line of 11 points, eight assists and six rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Aminu’s brother, Alade, had a team-high 18 points while former Phoenix Suns big Gani Lawal was held scoreless in 10 minutes of action.
Angola 95, Morocco 73 — Angola remained undefeated in the tournament, extending its record to 5-0 with an easy win over Morocco. The eventual victors took a 22-point lead into halftime and never let up, eliminating Morocco from championship contention.
Olimpio Cipriano led Angola with 16 points off the bench, making four of his seven three-point attempts — an outlier considering his team finished the game with an 11-for-30 performance from beyond the arc. Leonel Paulo added 14 points while Milton Barros and Carlos Morais added 11 points apiece.
Morocco’s Cinderella bid ended prematurely, but Abdelhakim Zouita was imperative in keeping the game close with his tournament-high of 25 points. Veteran forward Youness Idrissi added 17 and Abderrahim Najah contributed 15 points of his own to round out Morocco’s double-digit scorers.
Egypt 74, Cape Verde 73 — Egypt didn’t win a single game in the three-game round-robin portion of FIBA Africa, but luckily all 16 teams were seeded in the knockout tournament regardless. One day after upsetting Tunisia, Ibrahim El-Gammal hit a game-winning three-pointer with 44 seconds left to keep his team’s championship hopes alive.
El-Gammal seems to be a dirty player and has made just 17 of his 71 attempts from the field (23.9 percent!), but he’s somehow stayed on the court to hit big shots en route to a 16-point performance in Wednesday’s win. The 34-year-old Sheriff Abdalla led the victors with 18 points and Haytham Khalifa added a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double for his best performance of the tournament.
Cape Verde was led by former Loyola (Md.) guard Brian Rudolph’s 19 points and eight rebounds. The 35-year-old Mario Correia was the only other Cape Verde player in double figures, scoring 18 points on 21 attempts from the field.
Ivory Coast 71, Cameroon 56 — Ivory Coast doesn’t feature any NBA players, but it hasn’t needed them this tournament. The hosting team extended its undefeated streak to five with a solid victory over an overmatched Cameroon squad.
Souleyman Diabate had his best performance of the tournament on Wednesday, scoring 19 points and dishing six assists as his team’s floor general. Pape Philippe Amagou was the only other Ivory Coast player in double figures with 10 points and five assists of his own.
New Sacramento Kings stopper Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was expected to help Cameroon’s chances in this tournament, but the team has been eliminated after its lone NBA player had a six-point, six-rebound, five-turnover performance on Wednesday while making just one of his five attempts from the field. Christian Bayang led Cameroon with his second 20-point performance of the tournament while Gaston Essengue added 11 points and five rebounds. Former UCLA Bruins forward Alfred Aboya had six points and three turnovers in 23 minutes.
Mali 71, Burkina Faso 70 — It took overtime, but Mali picked up the win in Wednesday morning’s early battle of the winless. Modibo NIakate scored a game-high 20 points for the winning squad while Moussa Ouattara put together a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
Central Africa Republic 64, Republic of Congo 63 — Max Kouguere had a team-high 22 points to lead Central African Republic to victory Wednesday. Medhie Mouesse didn’t score in Congo’s first four games, but the 20-year-old point guard scored 16 points in the team’s loss.
Mozambique 78, Algeria 56 — Octavio Magolico scored 17 points and added eight rebounds to help Mozambique to its second win of the tournament. Hocine Gaham scored 13 points to lead Algeria, but failed to record a rebound or assist in his 23 minutes of action.
Tunisia 76, Rwanda 54 — Tunisia looked like it didn’t care in Tuesday’s upset loss to Egypt, but it rebounded nicely against Rwanda in the loser’s bracket. Mourad El Mabrouk scored 18 to lead a Tunisian squad that held Rwanda to just 16 second-half points. Kami Kabangu and Thierry Suku Suku led Rwanda with 10 points each.
Next up: Thursday’s schedule will be rather light with just two games featuring the losers from Wednesday’s winners bracket.
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